Old & New

The Dutch call New Year’s Day oud en nieuw — meaning Old and New. In one sparkly seam of time, the past and future collide and explode into fizzly fireworks. (Isn’t that what makes us human after all? A cocktail of dreams and memories, fears of the unknown and regrets of what’s past?) And last night, as I blew into a semi-obnoxious noisemaker with a slightly tipsy head, I couldn’t help but think about how my life has so vastly changed over this year.

It seems it was just New Year’s 2017 when my boyfriend and I sprinted ten blocks at 11:55pm to get to the Chicago River on time for the fireworks. (We made it just at the countdown of 3-2-1!) And here we are again together, in Austin, Texas, where he now works, spending the disappointingly chilly weekend bowling and watching The Princess Bride and fueling up on heartwarming Indian food.

Somewhere in the middle, I worked at a preschool and fell in love with the honesty, joy, imaginations, and most tender emotions that my eighteen four and five year old students had to offer. I wish them all the best as they go on with their kindergarten schooling and beyond and hope they will remember their dear Teacher Cammie as much as I’ll remember them.

I was a Teacher Assistant for one of the most important humanity classes taught at University of Michigan, about the Holocaust and the legacy of Anne Frank’s diary. I learned that I love office hours and talking with young students about their ideas and how they can develop them more. I love that so many of those students are going to go on to teach others about the importance of telling these histories, so we will never forget the horrors that so many have suffered, and so many have overcome.

There were travels. I did not get mauled by a bear in Alaska, met amazing writers in Martha’s Vineyard, and found my happy spot in Seattle.

I no longer live in Ann Arbor. I am a full-on fully immersed Montpelierian (Montpelierite?) in the green mountains of Vermont. I started a graduate program that has filled my heart, fired up the stone inside my stomach, challenged my brain coils, and has introduced me to lovely people who will produce such amazing pieces of literature in the next few years. So get ready world — and make room in your bookshelves.

My creative work was published five times this year (thank you so much to all of the editors of Across the Margin, Moonchild Magazine, Dream Pop Press, Orange Quarterly, and Emerging Writers Network) and I began writing blog content for the Michigan Quarterly Review. I’m still near the bottom of the mountain (just off the ground), but I have coffee and strength and am excited to find the next foothold to push me that much closer to the top.

2018–I can’t wait to see the stories that come out of you.

In terms of the annual media roundup, I read 66 books and harrowingly narrowed the list of “favorites” down to 25. 

An eclectic list of old and new (hand drawn by me in the style of My Ideal Bookshelf):

Alias Grace – Margaret Atwood
Euphoria – Lily King
The Things They Carried – Tim O’Brien
Her Body and Other Parties – Carmen Maria Machado
The Child Finder – Rene Denfeld
Gutshot – Amelia Gray
Life After Life – Kate Atkinson
Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman
Tales of Falling and Flying – Ben Loory
The Little Stranger – Sarah Waters
And the Pursuit of Happiness – Maira Kalman
The Spoons in the Grass Are There to Dig a Moat – Amelia Martens
Grief is the Thing With Feathers – Max Porter
The Most of It – Mary Ruefle
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Mark Haddon
History of Wolves – Emily Fridlund
The Snow Child – Eowyn Ivey
Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain– David Eagleman
Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides
Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
Case Histories – Kate Atkinson
The Girl Who Drank the Moon – Kelly Barnhill
We Have Always Lived in the Castle – Shirley Jackson
How to Set a Fire and Why – Jesse Ball
A Woman is a Woman Until She is a Mother : Essays – Anna Prushinskaya

TV greats included Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, which I think I could watch over and over and over for its music, style, wit, and its female protagonist extraordinaire.

I didn’t see too many movies this year, but I did really enjoy the quirkiness which is The Shape of Water. I also finally got around to seeing Arrival, which was excellent and non-linear in all the best ways.

My mood music for 2017 was hands-down Fleet Foxes (who I saw live in August) and Emancipator (who I’ll see live later this month!) It’s a tie between Fleet Foxes’ “The Shrine/The Argument” and Emancipator’s “Rattlesnakes” for which one was on repeat the most.

On this first day of 2018, the cards are in the hands of the stars. Anything can happen and I feel excited by that. No fear of the blank page. Let’s start writing the year now.






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